History Behind Game of Thrones reader “BoredMe” suggested that Ramsay Snow and House Bolton may be inspired by Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. In fact, there’s a very entertaining thread on Westeros.org about this theory. Just for kicks, let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between the legendary Transylvanian warlord, House Bolton, and Ramsay Snow.
Ramsay Snow is, of course, Roose Bolton’s bastard, and he has shown a long-time penchant for torture. Ramsay is a greedy, ambitious, crafty sadist who, in the books, has repeatedly slipped beyond the reach of justice – often turning the tables on those who could have stopped him. In this regard, Ramsay is like Vlad who frequently tricked his enemies and devised clever ways to defeat them. [Read about Vlad’s childhood.] In the case of Theon, Ramsay tricks him into a false sense of security by pretending to be his friend and a lowly servant.
Both Ramsay and Vlad enjoyed waging psychological warfare on the enemy. In the TV show, Ramsay famously eats a sausage in front of the recently castrated (penectomied?) Theon. Vlad notoriously put a forest of 20,000 impaled corpses in the path of Mehmed II’s invading Ottoman army to break their will. It worked. The terrified troops refused to advance.
Ramsay resembles Vlad in that they both love torturing people and completely indifferent to women’s suffering. In the books, Ramsay attacks a neighboring house, House Hornwood, after discovering the lord and his heir had recently died. After he takes the keep, he forces Lady Donella Hornwood to marry him and then throws her into a tower to starve to death – which she does after trying to eat her fingers. When one of Vlad’s mistresses became pregnant, he had her belly slit open and then had her disemboweled.
Perhaps, not unlike Vlad the Impaler, Roose Bolton is not completely without standards – ironically, Roose is disgusted when Theon betrays Robb Stark. (Vlad strongly disapproved of adultery, theft, and sloth.) It is just that both Roose and Vlad’s standards often include tactics, such as flaying and impalement, that most people find abhorrent.
There are also some subtle similarities between Vlad’s childhood and that of Ramsay. Both had absent fathers who did not treat them well. As a child, Vlad’s father sent the boy as a hostage to the Ottoman Sultan, as a bond to ensure his loyalty. However, the Sultan was known to exact fierce penalties from those who betrayed him. Vlad’s father broke his oath to the Sultan and knowingly endangered Vlad’s life. Ramsay’s father was better, but just barely.
Ramsay is the product of sexual assualt; Roose raped his mother and was never married to her. In the ASOIAF novels, Roose Bolton sends Ramsay and his mother, who do not live with Roose, the smelly Reek as a passive-aggressive gift. Ramsay and his mother get a helper, but Reek has a permanent congenital body odor condition that makes him unbearable to be around.
As a child, in the novels, Ramsay bonded with Reek and they became partners in pain. It’s unclear who corrupted whom. Reek is a necrophiliac, and in some ways, he resembles Renfield, Dracula’s sidekick in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Renfield is not a necrophiliac, but he is obsessed with death and does enjoy killing and eating flies.
Does Ramsay resemble Vlad the Impaler? You be the judge. Read more in about Vlad, his sick torture techniques, and his dark childhood in “Dracula: Impalement, Punishment by Proxy of His Brother’s Lover? ”
By Jamie Adair